Monthly Archives: May 2013

Worth Dying For: “Exerpt from Sermon”

Challenge to the high school graduates of 2013:

Many of you will be entering college next year. I suspect most of you have already applied and have been accepted to the college of your choice. I also suspect some of you received that dreaded “rejection” letter. As examples the acceptance rate at Harvard this year was 5.72%, Yale 6.72%, Columbia 6.89%, and Princeton 7.29%. If you wanted stay in Texas the acceptance rate at Texas A&M was 68%, UT was 46.6%, or UTEP with a 99.8% rolling acceptance rate. I must admit I would like to meet the ones who make up the 0.2% rejected by UTEP but of course I doubt I could meet them since they forgot to put their name on the application!

I believe UTEP is a great deal like Jesus who invites anyone and everyone to come and follow Him.

Don’t get me wrong following Jesus will not be easy, but it is open to anyone and everyone willing to pay the price. So what does it cost to follow Jesus? I suspect most of you always thought it was “cheap” or “free.” It is true that Jesus paid in full the price of our salvation, but to cost of following Jesus is high for those willing to step out and follow Him.

Jesus cuts to the chase when he demands “Let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Yes, you heard him right. To follow Jesus will cost you your life. I believe Dietrich Bonheoffer said it best when he wrote in his classic book “The Cost of Discipleship”:

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Too often when one looks at this invitation we try to divide into three parts, denying, taking up the cross, and following, but I believe in a real sense it is one fluid motion. In many ways, it reminds me of the Marine recruiting slogan that states:

“We don’t take applications—only commitments!”

Jesus too is looking only for a few good men and women willing to sell out and follow Him no matter where He leads or where the road might take them.

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Class of 2013

Young fresh-faced graduates adored in black robes and funny square hats fill college campuses across the land like the wild flowers of spring. Cash-strapped parents sitting next to glowing grandparents fill auditoriums from sea to shining sea celebrating college commencement ceremonies watching their sons and daughters walk across the stage in this ancient rite of passage walking straight into an exciting and uncertain future.

Over the past two weekends I have had a front row seat to all these festivities and dramas. Two of my girls graduated from college this weekend to their great joy and to my pride. Jamie, my third daughter, graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. In addition my lovely wife Robyn graduated from the University of Texas El Paso with her master’s degree in Interdisciplinary studies with a focus on French and Linguistics. I am so proud!

On a humorous note, Jim Caylor pointed out to me that Robyn was getting “hooded”—you get it—“Robyn Hood.” I love a good play on words, but just so you know my dear wife will not be joining “Little John” on a crime spree to steal from the rich to give to the poor. The good news is Robyn will be teaching English for Howard Payne this fall!

Meanwhile Jamie like most college graduates will be looking for a job. Unfortunately the job market for college graduates looks as bleak as the chance of rain across the desert of Far West Texas. The unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds stands at 13.1% while the national rate has settled in at 7.5%.
Sadly even the graduates who land jobs will often be under employed. For instance in 2012, 53.6% or 1.5 million young adults with bachelor degrees found themselves unemployed or underemployed waiting tables, working behind the counter, or preparing your latte.

In a last ditch effort to delay the inevitable many graduates just keep on going to school seeking graduate degrees in hopes of changing their fortunes. As a father of a college graduate I must confess this situation has force me to my knees in prayer for Jamie and the Class of 2013.

On the bright side, my years of experience have taught me some great lessons about life. One huge lesson I have learned revolves around exchanging my worries for His promises. Jesus taught his followers to trust Him one day at a time, and to never worry.

Worrying about tomorrow in Jesus’ book makes no sense at all. In the Sermon on the Mount, He drove this point home time and time again. For instance, in the Lord ’s Prayer He taught us to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, Jesus wants us to trust Him one day at a time for food on the table. For most of us this seems almost foolish, but in reality it is faith.

Later, Jesus made this bold observation when He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” In simple terms, learn to live in the present. Trust God for today. Leave your tomorrows in His hands. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know who holds tomorrow in His hand. Knowing this will help me sleep well tonight!

NOTE: My daughter Jamie got a job in El Paso working for a local relator and friend, Patrick Tuttle. We are so proud of her and thankful for this opportunity to have her back in El Paso.

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Bike Out Hunger El Paso

Do you remember when you first learned how to ride a bicycle? Did you have training wheels or just a parent breathlessly running behind your bike? Or were you like me…did you have both?

For a child learning to ride a bike means freedom and adventure. Soon you find yourself on the open road, and you feel all grown up.

Of course riding a bicycle also can come with its own risks and dangers. I will never forget the afternoon I rode my bike back home from elementary school as a first grader. I felt all grown up as I navigated my way back home that was until I had encounter with the beautiful rose bushes out in front of our house!

I can close my eyes today and see myself in slow motion wobbling toward the rose bushes with their thorns at the ready to make their mark on me. In an instant I went from all grown up to a crying little boy running to his mommy! I must admit that bloody encounter with a rose bush put a damper on my biking adventures for a little while.

Recently I have noticed many of my peers have climbed back on their bikes in sleek spandex uniforms that make them look younger and fitter. I fear if I donned such a suit you might see my chocolate fed “love handles” a bit too much.

These young at heart riders hit the roads and highways of our region and even the mountains of New Mexico for fun and exercise. Our city is filled with great bicycle clubs like EP Cyclists and the El Paso Bicycle Club.

This weekend watch out on the roads for many of your friends and neighbors as they participate in the 2013 Bike Out Hunger Ride in El Paso. Juan Ortiz, one of our own, will mount his bike and hit the road to “bike out hunger.”

His desire to join this fund raising effort that will directly benefit “El Pasoans Fighting Hunger” began one afternoon when God opened his eyes to hunger. Let Juan share his story in his own words:

“Last week as I was getting gas at Albertsons by UTEP, I saw a man going through the trash can looking for food; he was eating out of the trash. It broke my heart. Took the man and bought him food. I know God put me there for a reason. If I can help one guy then riding my bike would help more people. I always ask the question, what would Jesus do? He has done for me more than I deserve. We all can make the difference.”

You can join Juan on his ride to “bike out hunger” in our area by being one of his financial sponsors. You can sponsor him per mile or by a generous one time gift. He will be riding nearly 50 miles on Saturday, May 25 across the hills and plains outside of East El Paso.

Robyn and I will be sponsoring him and hoping he avoids all the “rose bushes” and cactus along the route, and I hope you will join us.

You can give on line by logging on to:
http://outhunger.org/entrants/fbc-el-paso/
Or you can give a designated gift to our church. Your gifts will help “bike out” hunger in El Paso so no one will have to dig in the trash for dinner. Thanks Juan!

NOTE: You can still support Juan online. He did his part! Let’s do ours!

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Mommy, I am Hungry

In 2005, Director Ron Howard released a hit movie about a classic American Hero James Braddock, an Irish-American boxer who claimed the World Heavyweight championship in 1935 by defeating Max Baer, the fierce indestructible German fighter.

The backdrop of the story grows out of the darkness and despair of the Great Depression in New York City. In the early days of the depression Braddock broke his hand in a fight and was forced to give up his livelihood as a fighter to work the docks for less and a living wage. He and his wife Mae struggled to raise a family on practically nothing. Food was scarce, and money even more scarce.

Sportswriter Damon Runyon dubs Braddock “the Cinderella Man” because of his rise from rags to riches—from the gutter to glory. As you know a Cinderella story always starts with struggle and tragedy. In one unforgettable scene in the movie, Braddock rises early for work. When he sits down for breakfast his wife informs him that she does not have enough food for him and the children. With sacrificial love he pushes the plate away and orders her to feed the children while he heads to work with nothing but the growl of hunger in his stomach.

Most of us know very little about real hunger. Many of us struggle keeping our weight down and go from fade diet to fade diet. We consume grapefruits, cut our carbs, reject “red” meat, and eat fish like Jesus’ disciples in hopes of losing a few pounds that will return once again after feasting our way through the holidays. Meanwhile, in El Paso we are surrounded by family who struggle to know where the next meal will come from especially during the summer months when the kids no longer get to eat a school.

Several years ago at a children’s camp I was approached by a sponsor who told me a heart wrenching story that brought home to my heart the reality of hunger in America. She told of standing in line for breakfast when a little girl in her cabin looked up and asked, “Is this going to be our only meal for the day?” At first the sponsor could not comprehend the question and then she realize this little girl knew first-hand what it meant to go through the day with only one meal in her little stomach.

This Mother’s Day, we join with our Texas Baptist Family as we determine to raise one million dollars in one day to fight hunger. We will take a special offering that will be used to fight hunger in our city and around the world. We want to do our part in helping to put food on the tables of boys and girls, and to take the heavy burden off the backs of moms and dads who struggle to take care of their families.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus our Lord declared:

“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42 NIV)

In a city where one out of five of our neighbors live under the looming struggle of “food insecurity”, I believe Jesus wants us to be known for our generosity. Remember we reflect our Father in heaven best when we give especially food to the hungry.

Note: Our church raised over $2500 on Mother’s Day but the need still remains. Our local Kelly Memorial Food pantry is in desperate need of support as more and more people keep coming seeking assistance. Do what you can to help others.

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